About the Explorer’s Gentian

The Blue Gentian, or Explorer’s Gentian (Gentiana calycosa), was one of Flora Hewlett’s favorite flowers.  The gentians are a diverse family of some nine hundred species, including several in the Sierra.  The flower is named after Gentius, an ancient king of Illyria who is credited with discovering its many medicinal qualities.  The flowers bloom in late summer and fall, in mountain meadows.  This photograph, taken by William R. Hewlett in the Sierra Nevada Range, was the emblem for FFF in the Foundation’s first years.  

The logo of the Flora Family Foundation retains the five-petal form of the Explorer’s Gentian and stands symbolically for the five branches of the Hewlett family.  The petals point outward in five different directions, symbolizing the distinctive and often divergent paths that Family Council members take in their individual grantmaking.  Yet the five petals are also firmly secured at the center, representing the collective pursuits of the Family Council. 

Photograph taken by William R. Hewlett at the Cedars, Placer County, California, date unknown. Photo courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences.